In the realm of criminal law, assault charges encompass more than just physical acts of violence. They can arise from situations where even threatening words or behaviours are present, especially in emotionally charged scenarios like domestic disputes. Often, these charges are paired with police applications for AVOs (Apprehended Violence Orders). It is crucial to understand that if you find yourself facing assault charges, there are, potentially, legal defences available to you.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF ASSAULT OFFENCES?
In NSW, assault offences are categorised based on their severity and the nature of the harm inflicted. The various types of assault offences include:
– Common Assault:
Common assault is a charge that does not necessarily result in injury. It can be based on the mere apprehension of physical contact, even if no actual contact occurs. This means that threatening gestures or words, which make someone fear immediate and unlawful violence, can be grounds for a common assault charge.
– Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm:
This charge goes a step further than common assault. It involves injuries that might not be grievous but still interfere with the victim’s health or comfort. This can range from bruises to psychiatric illnesses directly resulting from the assault.
– Assault Causing Serious Harm:
This type of assault results in serious harm to the victim, which can be life-threatening or cause a permanent injury or impairment. It is a step below grievous bodily harm but more severe than actual bodily harm.
– Grievous Bodily Harm:
This is one of the most severe assault charges. It pertains to serious injuries, such as permanent disfigurement, causing a grievous bodily disease, and includes the termination of pregnancy.
– Aggravated Assault:
Aggravated assault is when the offence is committed under circumstances that make it more severe, such as when the victim is under 16, over 60, or has a disability. It can also apply when the assault is committed in the company of others or during a home invasion.
– Assault of Police Officers:
Assaulting a police officer in the execution of their duty is a separate and distinct offence. This includes not only physical harm but also resisting arrest or hindering a police officer. Given the role police officers play in maintaining public order, the penalties for this offence are typically more severe.
WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP ONCE YOU HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH AN ASSAULT OFFENCE?
It is important to seek legal advice regarding entry of a plea and possible defences as soon as possible as Magistrates are reluctant to adjourn assault charge matters more than once before a plea is entered. An early guilty plea, where this is appropriate, can benefit you on sentencing as the Court will allow a “discount” on the penalty that would usually be imposed.
WHAT LEGAL DEFENCES ARE AVAILABLE?
Facing an assault charge does not mean a guaranteed criminal conviction. There are legal defences available to you, depending on the circumstances:
The Crimes Act 1900, provides for self-defence. If you believe that your actions were necessary to defend yourself or another person, and that the force used was reasonable, you might have grounds for this defence.
– Consent and Lawful Correction:
There are situations where physical contact is either consented to or is considered lawful correction. For instance, contact sports might involve physical interactions that participants have consented to. Similarly, parental discipline, within reasonable limits, can be considered lawful correction.
WHAT ARE YOU ABLE TO APPEAL?
If you are convicted, you can appeal the conviction itself or the penalty imposed against you. Any appeal must be lodged within 28 days from the day you were convicted otherwise you will need leave to appeal. There is no guarantee that the Court will grant you leave to appeal.
WHEN SHOULD YOU CONSULT A LAWYER?
It is essential for you to speak to a lawyer before agreeing to be interviewed by the Police. It may be appropriate for you to decline an interview in some cases or attend an interview with your lawyer before questions are put to you.
WHAT ARE THE LEGAL COSTS INVOLVED?
The cost of legal representation in assault charge matters varies considerably. Some matters are straightforward and others are complex and challenging. It is not always possible to get an accurate appraisal of the legal costs involved from another assault charge matter because the work involved can vary considerably, but at Brydens Lawyers you can be assured that the fees charged will always be fair and reasonable.
WHY ARE BRYDENS LAWYERS THE RIGHT REPRESENTATION FOR YOU?
Navigating assault charges in NSW requires more than just an experienced criminal lawyer; it demands a dedicated partner who puts your personal circumstances first. At Brydens Lawyers, our specialist team of criminal lawyers are here to guide you every step of the way, ensuring clarity, support, and a robust defence strategy tailored to your unique situation.
In January I lost my license for 6 months due to a medical condition. I got in contact with Avinash Singh from Brydens Lawyers, straight away Avinash put me at ease. Within a week my license was renewed, and I was able to drive again. I was so impressed with the dealings I had with Avinash and Brydens Lawyers, I wouldn’t hesitate to use them again or recommend them to my family of friends.
Andrew Johns of the NRL.
Avinash made us feel at ease and has taken the stress from us. Today I can say we are much happier as a family and we have our son back.
A client of our Criminal Law division.